Sunday 23 September 2018

Rooney in return to action

Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney in action last night.
Manchester United’s Wayne Rooney in action last night.

Wayne Rooney made his return to action with the United Under-21 team against Middlesbrough at Old Trafford last night, having been out since February 13 with injury.

The England captain, 30, has been sidelined for two months because of a knee problem but will hope to return for the end-of-season run-in before Euro 2016, where his possible role in Roy Hodgson's team has been much debated of late.

His return to the senior fold will be welcome news to Van Gaal too after the Dutchman played Ashley Young as a makeshift forward in the second half against Tottenham.

United's humbling at White Hart Lane may have been painful, but Juan Mata is not wallowing in self pity ahead of one of the most important matches of the season.

A six-minute flurry saw Louis van Gaal's men downed 3-0 by title-chasing Spurs on Sunday, seriously denting their hopes of a top-four finish.

It left "a particularly bitter taste" for Mata but his focus now is on United's return to the capital tomorrow, when they face West Ham in an FA Cup quarter-final replay looking to progress to keep their chances of silverware alive.

"Conceding three goals in just seven minutes is tough to take for everyone, especially when you feel that you were doing a few good things before that moment," Mata said.

"I think it's fair to say that during the first half the game was even. We had a good start and they pushed in the last few minutes before the break.

"However, the first goal was very painful for us and the opponent took advantage of it.

"I think it's good to play the next game as soon as possible, on Wednesday, because it allows the team to move on from White Hart Lane and focus completely on the match against West Ham.

"It's actually one of the most important games of the season and we can't afford to feel sad or upset when preparing for it.

"On the contrary, we must be aware that in the Boleyn Ground we have a fantastic opportunity to make it to Wembley and give our fans what they deserve: a reason for joy this season."

Fellow United midfielder Michael Carrick echoed those sentiments as he prepares to travel to another of his former clubs.

"We are looking forward to Wednesday now and that has got to be the focus," he told MUTV.

"We have got to take what we can from today and move on to a massive game."

"We all know what that means and it is make or break on the night. It is one we can look forward to and hopefully we can come away with the win and get into the next round."

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